Gay marriage forum year on

Church representatives were questioned about gay rights at a forum in Dunedin last night marking a year this month since marriage equality law passed.

The Presbyterians, Anglicans, Catholics, and Methodists fronted for the forum, organised by Otago University Students' Association queer support officer Neill Ballantyne.

It was jointly hosted by the University of Otago Centre for Theology and Public Issues and OUSA Queer Support.

The Bishop of Dunedin, the Rt Rev Dr Kelvin Wright, said gay marriage was a ''non-issue'' for him, but there remained division of opinion among Anglicans.

The Anglicans were working through a process to allow parts of the church to disagree on the issue without causing division.

The Methodists had moved on after agonising greatly over the issue, Methodist minister and university chaplain the Rev Greg Hughson said.

He hoped the Methodists could be a model for others, like the Presbyterians, and Anglicans, on how to resolve it.

The Rev Dr Bruce Hamill said the Presbyterian church needed to rethink its position, which upheld a conservative view of marriage.

Dr Hamill, who convenes a church group on doctrinal matters, said his personal view was that those supporting gay rights were more in keeping with the values of Jesus.

Fr Mark Chamberlain said the Roman Catholics remained opposed to gay marriage.

''In the Catholic tradition, it's not possible for marriage to be widened beyond a man and a woman.

''That's something that's unthinkable for the Catholic tradition.''

A questioner asked Fr Chamberlain why the church was not shifting on gay marriage, when it was softening in other areas. Fr Chamberlain said the church was not changing.

Forum organiser Mr Ballantyne said that as a gay Christian he found church attitudes disappointing.

It was not enough to be ''middle of the road'' on the issue.

Churches must take a lead advocating gay rights, including petitioning countries which still actively discriminated against gay people.

eileen.goodwin@odt.co.nz

How about just being courteous?

Weg2008 is unhappy that "Bible believing Christians are being put in a position of being asked to move from grace based tolerance to acceptance...." You may be asked, but in the end you don't have to say yes. All that is really necessary are the legal necessity not to discriminate (the areas covered by this are limited), and the wish for decent civilized behaviour in society, which I'm sure weg2008 shares. So all that is needed is courtesy. There is no need to invite homosexuals, single, defacto or married, to one's dinner parties. We are free to think and feel whatever comes naturally to us, believe whatever us like no matter how silly other people think our beliefs are. What people harbour in their own minds and emotions is their business, just don't let these feelings come out in the form of unkindness, otherwise we'll all have a society that's not fit to live in.

Tolerance or acceptance?

It's a great shame that Bible believing Christians are being put in a position of being asked to move from grace based tolerance to acceptance contrary to what has been a traditional view of Holy Scripture. To many of us the new post -modern concept of "Gay Christian' can been seen as a contradiction in theological terms. 

Jesus' values

It's a shame the Jewish values of Jesus Christ are being altered to try and serve a 21st century view of sexual bahaviour.

Love and support

Funny how when you want a divorce you don't go back to the church to ask God for one. You go to the lawyer because the marriage licence you signed on that fateful day is a legal document. God is just used to try to keep you faithful to the vows you are making there but even that doesnt work for some. People who use religion to hide their bigotry and judgement of other peoples lives are just in church for the networking, not the teachings.

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